Sign & Digital Graphics

June '17

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80 • June 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ELECTRIC SIGNAGE with LEDs, primarily due to the back glow created by neon," says Vincent. "That being said a number of LED man- ufacturers have nice-looking and reason- ably priced linear border products." Horton agrees with Vincent, citing the difficulty of LEDs mimicking neon's characteristics. He says, "If you want the true look of neon, such as mounted around the border of a building, you are very limited in your options. I believe there are only one or two companies in the market today that still make a neon- looking LED tubing. If you are looking for indirect lighting to give just a halo effect around the perimeter of a building, you could mount many types of LEDs into a channel and get the same effect." Coming back to R O I , however, Vincent reminds us to be aware of the cost. "I would just warn anyone before going from skeleton neon to LED to consider the ROI—they are much longer than other LED systems (channel letters, etc.) due to the up-front cost of these systems." The Color of LEDs Comparing neon with L E D s ulti- mately leads to a conversation about color. What looks most attractive, cap- tures the greatest attention, and works best with the whole signage theme. In this case, the versatility of LEDs can give sign makers more options. "Colored L E Ds have the inherent advantage that they are essentially mono- chromatic," starts Vincent, "therefore, color variation is typically not an issue." Most often with LED signs, it's the sign face that determines the color of the display. Says Reis, "This really depends on the design of the sign face/graphic. If the client wants a white face during the daytime, but a color at night (Longhorn Steakhouse is an example of this) then they will need to use a colored module to achieve the desired color when illumi- nated at night. This can result in an 'in between' color (such as looking pink vs. red) during dusk/dawn hours." Taking it a step further, Horton explains that the materials that make up the sign face play a major role in the sign's color output. "Is the face colored acrylic or is it white with a translucent vinyl over- lay?" he asks. "Many companies today have gone exclusively to white acrylic with vinyl because it cuts down on the numbers of acrylic and LED products you have to keep in stock. The options available today in translucent vinyl (along with digital printing) make col- ors almost unlimited. There are still some good quality color acrylics in the market, and some people prefer to apply the 'neon rule' when using colored LEDs today, which is to put the same color of LED behind whatever color acrylic you are using." It's better to be safe than sorry, espe- cially when you're looking to achieve the best color match with a company logo or lettering for example. Reis notes that any LED, whether white or colored, can change the color of a sign's acrylic face, "so the installer should be aware of the In the long run, LEDs can decrease costs because of the low amount of maintenance associated with them. (Image courtesy of Principal LED)

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